Monday, 9 March 2009

Guest Blogger: Laura Keeling - Reportage Press

Today's Guest Blogger is Assistant Editor of Reportage Press, Laura Keeling. 'A Week at Waterloo' is one of the selected titles for this months' EI list, from Reportage Press.

Working for Reportage Press is my first job in publishing, but I already know that my working day is very different from that of friends working for Penguin, or Random House. And that is fine by me. I know all the authors personally (apart, of course, from those that are deceased, such as the lovely Magdalene de Lancey of Legend Press’ current pick, A Week at Waterloo..), am very close to my (one or two) colleagues, and am involved in every aspect of the publishing process from commissioning to printing, from marketing to editorial.

But of course there are challenges. Faced with the juggernaut of the various big publishing houses, with their massive budgets and eternal dominance of the bestseller lists, trying to sell a few good, interesting books about the less commercial people and places of the world can seem a daunting task. A case in point – the other day I was having a pleasant chat with the owner of Primrose Hill Books, when a couriered parcel was plopped down on the table in front of us. Inside were five or six ‘bound proofs’ cherry picked by Bloomsbury, the best of their autumn list. But these were not the ‘bound proofs’ of my experience - i.e. spiral bound manuscripts - but actual, glossy, proper ‘books’. And they were ready months in advance of printing! My heart sank – what hope did our small repping team have against this?

Well, thank god for initiatives like Exclusively Independent, unreservedly and unashamedly batting on the side of small, quality publishing houses, struggling to get small, quality bookshops to bat an eyelid. Indie publishers and bookshops are a vital aspect of the literary landscape, and any scheme that encourages the two to come together in support of each other is very worthwhile.


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